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RE: st: Scheme error message

From   Constantine Daskalakis <>
Subject   RE: st: Scheme error message
Date   Wed, 08 Sep 2004 13:33:04 -0400

At 01:11 PM 9/8/2004, Nick Cox wrote:
Schemes haven't been documented yet for good reasons,
because they are not yet stable. That is, StataCorp
are following the logic Constantine mentions. They
don't want to provide documentation which will then
later be broken. However, scheme documentation was
promised at the Boston meeting as coming pretty soon.
This is incorrect Nick. Perhaps you have not read the graphics manual as carefully as I have. There are plenty of graphics options that are documented in the manual. I can give a huge list. Also, and more to the point, quoting from the manual, "Making your own scheme" [G, p.470]:


For example, we have previously typed sysdir and determined that our PERSONAL directory is c:\ado\personal. We now type

. which s2color.scheme

. copy c:\stata\ado\base\d\s2color.scheme c:\ado\personal\mine.scheme

We now have a new scheme called mine. We can edit file mine.scheme and change it how we wish. If you look at the file, you will find the lines very readable, especially if you compare what you are seeing with the contents of the other official scheme files.

It that is not documentation (albeit a little scant), what is? The section itself is titled "Making your own scheme" after all.

The same is true of many other things. None of the
low-level graphics stuff is documented at all. The
alternative of documenting _everything_ that is not
proprietary would undoubtedly bloat the manuals further,
most of the information however being too arcane
for almost all users.
One does not have to go from one extreme to the other. Some reasonable middle ground is possible and I say that Stata is overdoing it with undocumented progress.

Also, freezing Stata between releases, apart from
fixes, commits StataCorp to elephantine pregnancies
and deprives keen users of lots of nice things in the
interim. Just witness how interested several people are
in the enhancements to -ci, binomial-.
Again, some caution in revisions does not take us to "elephantine pregnancy"!
And there is a huge difference between adding features (-ci, binomial-) and changing basic things (color schemes).

So I disagree here with Constantine.

More importantly, he and others agreeing have some degree
of choice here, e.g. choosing not to -update- or (more
realistically) just choosing not to use new features
added since release (but how are these known about if
they are not documented?).
I agree and had not had any gripes up until version 7. But things are getting out of hand.
The problem is that if I don't want to use the new features, I can't use the old features any more (ie, s2color.scheme does NOT work any more). As for not updating, if I choose to do that I will miss the things that REALLY need updating (ie, fixes on incorrect code and programs etc).

It's all nice and well for people like you who are really into Stata and for people who never bother with manuals and simply ask "how do I do this?" for every little question they have. But what about the ones in the middle who really try to figure things out from the documentation?


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Constantine Daskalakis, ScD
Assistant Professor,
Biostatistics Section, Thomas Jefferson University,
211 S. 9th St. #602, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Tel: 215-955-5695
Fax: 215-503-3804
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